AP English Language Vocab. (Mostly Rhetorical Terms)

  1. Abstract
    (N.) An abbreviated synopsis of a longer work of scholarship or research.

    (Adj.) Dealing with or tending to deal with a subject apart from a particular or specific instance.
  2. Ad Hominem
    (Adv.)Directed to or appealing to feelings or prejudices instead of to intellect or reason.
  3. Adage
    (N.)A saying or proverb containing a truth based on experience and often couched in a metaphorical language.

    i.e.; "There is more than one way to skin a cat."
  4. Allegory
    (N.)A story in which a second meaning is to be read beneath the surface.
  5. Alliteration
    (N.)The repetition of one or more initial consonants in a group of words or lines in a poem.
  6. Allusion
    (N.)A reference to a person, place, or event meant to create an effect or enhance the meaning of an idea.
  7. Ambiguity
    (N.)A vagueness of meaning; a conscious lack of clarity meant to evoke multiple meanings or interpretations.
  8. Anachronism
    (N.)A person, scene, event, or other element that fails to correspond with the appropriate time or era.

    i.e.; "Columbus sailing to the United States."
  9. Analogy
    (N.)A comparison that points out similarities between two dissimilar things;

    a passage that points out several similarities between two unlike things is called an extended analogy.
  10. Anecdote
    (N.)A brief narrative often used to illustrate an idea or make a point.
  11. Annotation
    (N.)A brief explanation, summary, or evaluation of a text or work of literature.
  12. Antagonist
    (N.)A character or force in a work of literature that, by opposing the protagonist, produces tension or conflict.
  13. Antecedent
    (N.)A word to which a pronoun refers.
  14. Antithesis
    (N.)A rhetorical opposition or contrast of ideas by means of a grammatical arrangement of words, clauses, or sentences, as in the following: "They promised freedom but provided slavery." "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
  15. Aphorism
    (N.) A short, pithy statement of a generally accepted truth or sentiment. (see adage and maxim)
  16. Apollonian
    (Adj.) In contrast to Dionysian, if refers to the most noble, godlike qualities of human nature and behavior.
  17. Apostrophe
    (N.)A locution that addresses a person or personified thing not present.

    i.e.;"Oh, you cruel streets of Manhattan, how I detest you!"
  18. Arch
    (Adj.) Characterized by clever or sly humor, often saucy, playful, and somewhat irreverent.
  19. Archetype
    (N.)An abstract or ideal conception of a type; a perfectly typical; an original model of form.
  20. Assonance
    (N.)The repetition of two or more vowel sounds in a group of words in prose or poetry.
  21. Bard
    (N.)A poet; in olden times, a performer who told heroic stories to musical accompaniment.
  22. Bathos
    (N.)Insincere or overdone sentimentality.
  23. Belle-lettres
    A French term for the world of books, criticism, and literature in general.
  24. Bibliography
    (N.)A list of works cited or otherwise relevant to a particular subject.
  25. Bombast
    (N.)Inflated, pretentious language.
  26. Burlesque
    (N.)A work of literature meant to ridicule a subject; a grotesque imitation.
  27. Cacophony
    (N.)Grating, inharmonious sounds.
  28. Canon
    (N.)The works considered most important in a national literature or period; works widely read and studied.
  29. Caricature
    (N.)A grotesque or exaggerated likeness of striking qualities in persons and things.
  30. Carpe diem
    Literally, "seize the day"; "enjoy life while you can," a common theme in life and literature.
  31. Circumlocution
    (N.)Literally, "talking around" a subject; i.e., discourse that avoids direct reference to a subject.
  32. Classic
    (N.)A highly regarded work of literature or other art form that has withstood a test of time.
  33. Classical, Classicism
    (N.)Deriving from the orderly qualities of ancient Greek and Roman culture; implies formality, objectivity, simplicity, and restraint.
  34. Clause
    (N.)A structural element of a sentence, consisting of a grammatical subject and predicate.

    Independent clauses(main clauses), may stand on their own as complete sentences.

    Dependent clauses(subordinate clauses), which are used as nouns or modifiers, are incomplete sentences and cannot stand alone grammatically. Dependent clauses that function as adjectives, nouns, or adverbs are known, respectively, as adjective, noun and adverbial clauses.
  35. Climax
    (N.)The high point, or tuning point, of a story or play.
  36. Comparison and Contrast
    (Adj.)A mode of discourse in which two or more things are compared and contrasted. Comparison often refers to similarities, contrast to difference.
  37. Conceit
    (N.)A witty or ingenious thought; a diverting or highly fanciful idea, often stated in figurative language.
  38. Concrete Detail
    A highly specific, particular, often real, actual, or tangible detail; the opposite of abstract.
  39. Connotation
    The suggested or implied meaning of a word or phrase. Contrast with denotation.
  40. Consonance
    The repetition of two or more consonant sounds in a group of words or a unit of speech or writing.
  41. Critique
    An analysis or assessment of a thing or situation for the purpose of determining its nature, limitations, and conformity to a set of standards.
  42. Cynic
    One who expects and observes nothing but the worst of human conduct.
  43. Deductive reasoning
    A method of reasoning by which specific definitions  conclusions, and theorems are drawn from general principal. Its opposite is inductive reasoning.
  44. Denotation
    The dictionary definition of a word. Contrast with connotation.
  45. Dénouement 
    The resolution that occurs at the end of a narrative or drama, real or imagined.
  46. Descriptive detail
    Graphic, exact, and accurate presentation of the characteristics of a person, place, or thing.
  47. Deus ex machina
    In literature, the use of an artificial device or gimmick to solve a problem.
  48. Diction
    The choice of words in oral and written discourse.
  49. Didactic
    Having an instructive purpose; intending to convey information or teach a lesson, usually in a dry, pompous manner.
  50. Digression
    That portion of discourse that wanders or departs from the main subject or topic.
  51. Dionysian
    As distinguished from Apollonian, the word refers to sensual, pleasure-seeking impulses.
  52. Dramatic Irony
    A circumstance in which the audience or reader knows more about a situation than a character.
  53. Elegy
    (N.)A poem or prose selection that laments or mediates on the passing or death of someone or something of value. Thee adjective describing the elegy is elegiac.
  54. Ellipsis
    Three periods(...) indicating the omission of words in a thought or quotation.
  55. Elliptical construction
    A sentence containing a deliberate omission of words. In the sentence "May was hot and June the same," the verb was is omitted from the second clause.
  56. Empathy
    A feeling of association or identification with an object or person.
  57. Epic
    A narrative poem that tells of the adventures and exploits of a hero.
  58. Epigram
    A concise but ingenious, witty, and thoughtful statement.
  59. Epithet
    An adjective or phrase that expresses a striking quality of a person or thing; sun-bright topaz, sun-lit lake. and sun-bright lake are examples. Can also be used to apply to vulgar or profane exclamations.
Card Set
AP English Language Vocab. (Mostly Rhetorical Terms)
The list that follows is made up of words and phrases used by scholars, critics, writers, to exchange ideas and information about language.